In America, Martha Stewart is hailed as the queen of the kitchen, but between the overly-complicated preparation requirements and the ingredients you can’t find anywhere, most cooks looking to her for inspiration give up after the appetizer. Here in Lisboa, there’s a more accessible chef in town who will show you how to have your traditional torta da laranja and eat it too.
Atlas spent an evening in the kitchen with Claudia, the hostess with the mostest, and learned how to make fool-proof Brazilian/Portuguese dishes sure to stir up most any appetite and wow any guest — and it only took us an hour and a half to create a spectacular four-course meal. The last hour was spent around the dining room table laughing, toasting, and gobbling up all the goodies we had just prepared.
The cherry on top of the experience is getting to know the chef herself. Claudia was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and has since lived all over the world over her 62 years — and it’s apparent in her mixing of flavors and her understanding of the timeline and cultural history behind each dish. She offers small and large cooking classes in both English and Portuguese and isn’t afraid to mix things up, as evidenced by the menu we prepared with her in her charming home in Alcântara.
Our entire meal had been meticulously planned before we arrived, right down to the pre-cut (and pre-marinated, in some cases) ingredients waiting on the kitchen counter.
Claudia showed us how to make the Portuguese cod fritters called pasteis de bacalhau, porco Alentajana straight from the south of Portugal, an African-inspired Brazilian moqueca in a beautiful golden sauce, and torta da laranja for dessert. We made all the dishes almost simultaneously until, before we knew it, the meal was ready and we were serving it onto plates at the dinner table outside.
If you’re looking for a little guidance through the kitchen by a pro, you won’t want to be in anyone else’s kitchen. Courtesy of the chef herself, you can start your culinary training at home and book when you’re ready for seconds.
Bacalhau Cakes (Pasteis de Bacalhau)
500g boiled boneless cod loin
300g red potatoes
3 dl milk
ground white pepper and salt
Crush the boiled bacalhau using mortar or a food processor. Boil the Potatoes in salted water and mash them. In a large bowl, mix the crushed bacalhau with the mashed potatoes using a wooden spoon. Add the egg yolks and slowly introduce the milk bit by bit until you get to a homogeneous thick mix. You may want to use less milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Beat the egg whites, add them to the mixture along with the chopped parsley. The mixture should be smooth but firm. In a deep frying pan heat the oil. Using two metal tablespoons, make oval balls and boil them in the oil one by one.
Pork Meat with Clams (Carne de Porco Alentejana)
1 kg pork loin
2 tablespoon of red pepper paste
4 crushed cloves of garlic
3 bay leaves
1 piri-piri hot sauce
salt and black pepper
2.5 dl of white wine
800g fresh or frozen clams
125 dl olive oil
1 bunch of chopped coriander
Start by cutting the meat into small cubes. In a large bowl, season the meat with the red pepper paste, the crushed garlic, the chopped piri-piri and the white wine. Leave it to marinate for at least four hours or preferably overnight.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and fry the meat. The juice from the meat will make a sauce at the bottom of the saucepan. This should be enough to cook the meat to the tender point. If you think you need more, add a little bit of the marinade to top it up.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the meat is tender, add the clams and the coriander and cover until the clams have opened. Serve it with chips, baked sweet potatoes or plain white rice.
Brazilian Bacalhau & Shrimp Stew (Moqueca Mista de Bacalhau e Camarão)
1kg cod loin (frozen individual pieces from Lidl are very good!)
12 large frozen shrimp
4 large tomatoes chopped
1 large chopped onion
1 chopped medium red pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 tablespoons of palm oil
3 cloves garlic
salt and white pepper
100 ml thick coconut milk
1 bunch of coriander
Leave the shrimp and cod to defrost at room temperature. Clean the cod by removing the skin and bones. Cut it into medium cubes. Season the shrimp and fish with one clove of garlic, for at least one hour.
Heat the olive and coconut oils together, add the chopped onion and remaining cloves of garlic. Leave it to sauté until well cooked and transparent. Add the chopped peppers and fry until tender. Add the chopped tomatoes and let it cook until the mixture almost melts into a thick paste. Add the palm oil, coconut milk, chopped piri-piri and season with salt and pepper. Lay the cod and shrimp over the mixture. Cover to simmer for a few minutes until the shrimp are cooked. Before removing from the heat, add the chopped coriander. Serve with plain white rice.
Rolled Orange Tart (Torta da Laranja)
zest of one orange
juice of one orange
400 gr of fine caster sugar
2 tbs corn flour
Pre-heat the oven to the max temperature. In a bowl, mix the eggs, the juice, the zest of orange, and the sugar until all is well blended. Add the flour. Grease a rectangular baking sheet with butter and line it with wax paper. Pour the batter onto the lined baking sheet and place it in the center of the oven. Keep watching until the top gets slightly golden (about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the oven). Carefully turn the cookie sheet upside down over a damped cloth, let the tart fall out, and roll it by pulling up at the side of the cloth as seen in the image above.